Next, I watched the Barney documentary with a few grains of salt(ed popcorn). I’m not a HUGE fan of performance or conceptual art, but I felt there had to be something to this man, considered one of the most important artists of our time and who captured the heart of Icelandic singer Bjork.
In the documentary, Barney (who considers himself predominately a sculptor) boards a Japanese whaling ship intending to fill a mold with 45,000 lbs of petroleum jelly. Once the mold is filled and the substance settles, the mold is removed and you’re left watching the stuff move glacier-like. It’s definielty more sensual than appetizing. There’s more to the film of course, including an interesting take on a traditional Japanese tea ceremory starring Bjork herself.
The theme of this, and the previous eight projects in the series, is the exploration of the artist and some manner of resistance. In his first Drawing Restraint, I think Barney tethered and otherwise hindered himself whilst attempting to make marks on a wall. The drawings aren’t much to look at (therein lies my problem with performance/conceptual art), but the point is well-made. Much like an athlete (Barney, by the way, was a high school football star) resistance, hurdles and obstacles challenge an artist to improve his work. And perhaps they’re what make art necessary in the first place.